ANNAPOLIS — Carroll's two Republican delegates support a House GOP plan to balance the 1992-1993 budget without raising taxes that would eliminate 86percent of a scheduled $184.4 million increase in education spending.
The plan unveiled by the House Republican Caucus Thursday eliminates about $1.1 billion in projected fiscal 1993 spending by reducingappropriations for agencies, local governments and mandated programs.
The $1.1 billion shortfall is based on the assumption that mandates would be maintained, as would certain other increases built into the budget.
Dels. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, and RichardC. Matthews, R-Carroll, are caucus members.
One mandate is APEX -- Action Plan for Educational Excellence -- which targets money to jurisdictions for improvements in instructional materials, teacher salaries, staff development, disadvantaged students and special education. The formula is weighted so poorer jurisdictions receive proportionately more.
The Republican plan would cut the scheduled APEX increase from $184.4 million to $26 million, which would maintain current APEX spending-per-pupil levels by adjusting for enrollment changes.
"In these tough times, it seems to me we can stand still a little on(APEX)," said Elliott. "I don't think it will do irreparable harm."
APEX is the primary financing source for Carroll schools, other than county appropriations. Under APEX, the county is scheduled to receive a $6.3 million increase -- from $33.9 million to $40.2 million --which would translate to an additional $249 per pupil.
Under the GOP proposal, the increase likely would be around $1.3 million.
Matthews said the increase was planned in the 1980s, "when money was rolling in to keep expanding and growing." But to escape the recession "we have to make cuts in different areas. APEX happens to be one where we can put things off."
Carroll teachers and school administrators have urged against cutting APEX. Such action "could dramatically affect class sizes," diminish capacity to hire new teachers for an anticipated 850-student enrollment increase and force elimination of programs, said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.
He said the school system needs an additional $4.2 million just to maintain level spending per pupil next year.
Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said Republicans used a "meat cleaver" approach and that some of the cuts suggested were "ludicrous" and "irresponsible."
A severe reduction in APEX would exacerbate the discrepancy between education systems in poorer and wealthier jurisdictions and could lead to local property tax increases, deferrals in instructional equipment purchases and teacher furloughs or layoffs, said LaMotte. Some jurisdictions already are having trouble operating schools for the required 180 days because of budget shortages.
House Democratic fiscal leaders offered several scenarios Wednesday that would balance the budget. Under a more probable scenario, which would include a tax increase, aidto local governments would be reduced by $254.8 million, but APEX would be spared. Carroll would lose $7.5 million because of downward adjustments in currently mandated spending (please see chart).
Matthews said the GOP plan, which focuses on reducing bureaucracy, eliminating unnecessary spending and increasing efficiency, provides the House with a tangible alternative to solve the budget problem without asking for more from taxpayers.
Elliott said the Republican Caucus' next goal is to forge a bi-partisan coalition with Democrats clearly opposed to tax increases. Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, said thatis his position, but that he hasn't been wooed by Republican leaders.
POSSIBLE LOST STATE AID IN FY '93
Category of local aid reduction .. .. .. .. .. .. Amount
Property tax grants .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . $2,567,000
Transportation revenue sharing .. .. .. .. .. ..606,000
Shared taxes .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 594,000
Resident Trooper Program .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 651,000
Transportation school aid .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2,033,000
Social Security.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 175,000
Local health aid .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 841,000
Total proposed loss for Carroll County .. ... $7,467,000
NOTE: Part of $254,778,000 in local aid cuts to close $1.1 billion budget deficit
SOURCE: State Department of Fiscal Service
HD: blican delegates back GOP budget plan
INCREASES IN EDUCATION WOULD BE SLASHED 86%